Eoin Morgan hit a six off the final ball to steal a victory for Sydney Thunder over Melbourne Stars and keep the defending champions hopes alive.
The England captain, playing his final BBL06 game before heading to India for One-Day Internationals, said farewell to the Spotless Stadium crowd in style.
Morgan had managed just one fifty in the tournament before today, ended unbeaten on 71 with his arms aloft and a huge smile on his face. The left-hander came to the crease in the sixth over with the score at 42 for two, and paced his charge toward the target like the seasoned international he is. His fifty came from 40 balls as he combined deft placement with destructive hitting, and when it came to the crunch – five runs required to win from the final ball – he did the business spectacularly, smashing Ben Hilfenhaus back over his head for six to seal the most dramatic of victories.
Kevin Pietersen had been central to the Melbourne Stars total of 166 for eight. Fawad Ahmed did a lot to restrict the Stars with the wickets of Luke Wright 25 (12) and David Hussey (15 off 11). Off-spinner Chris Green chipped in brilliantly with two wickets from as many balls, narrowly avoiding a hat-trick and keeping the Stars’ total to a chaseable one.
When Hussey was bowled the Stars were 91 for three and KP took control. His half-century came in 34 balls. Earlier, Glenn Maxwell (34 from 22 with 6 fours) had looked like he could win the match on his own, but skied a full toss from Shane Watson (3-23) straight to Kurtis Patterson on the midwicket fence.
It was a game that also brought injury worries. Andre Russell looks set to miss the rest of the tournament after suffering a left hamstring injury. And Pietersen sat out the Thunders’ innings with a slight groin niggle.
For the Stars, Michael Beer’s first two overs cost just seven runs, while Adam Zampa took 1-19 from his four, the leg-spinner skidding one through Ben Rohrer to leave the Thunder in all sorts at 4-85 in the 13th over.
So, the Thunders’ title hopes are still alive, albeit still hanging by the proverbial thread. It remains clear they have many problems and they will not be eased by today’s match-winner now leaving their fold. They now have a 10-day gap until their next match, against the Sixers at the SCG, while the Stars – who are one win from three – also have a derby next up, against the Renegades at Etihad on Saturday.
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James was the full-time Media Manager at Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 2007 and 2010.
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